Merck Manual

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Cupping

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Oct 2021
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The air inside a cup is heated, often using a rubber pump in modern practice. The heated cup is immediately inverted and placed on the skin. The resulting vacuum sucks the skin partway into the cup, which may be left in place for several minutes.

Cupping has been used to treat herpes zoster, facial paralysis, acne, cervical spondylosis, respiratory symptoms, and pain, but evidence is limited (1 Reference Cupping (a manipulative and body-based practice) is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Cupping is believed to increase blood flow to the site of application, thereby improving healing in... read more ).

Cupping will redden and may burn the skin.

Reference

  • 1. Cramer H, Klose P, Teut M, et al: Cupping for patients with chronic pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pain 21(9-10):943-956, 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2020.01.002

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